Africa needs to beef up cyber security urgently: experts

2018-10-27 10:15
iStock

iStock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Africa is being increasingly targeted by hackers and must invest in cyber security, industry leaders said at the third Africa Cyber Security Conference closing on Friday in Ivory Coast.

Although Africa is not a prime target, "cyber threats have no more borders" and data pirates "attack anything that moves", said Michel Bobillier, a leader of IBM's elite security unit, the Tiger Team.

"The creativity of these people is very great, they have organisations, real structured ecosystems, with a great deal of money and technology" to launch complex attacks, he said in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's main city.

Auguste Diop, managing director of Talentys, an Ivorian company operating in West Africa, said cybercriminals worldwide amassed a staggering $2 600 billion in 2015, a sum he expected to double by 2021.

Specific figures are unavailable for the African continent, but its banks and telecoms firms are the main target for pirates.

They operate by bank fraud and exploiting the new tools for electronic payment, notably money transfers and the payment of bills on mobile phones, which are expanding fast.

To take advantage of the growing market for cyber security, Orange CyberDefense - a subsidary of multinational telecoms operator Orange - plans to open an hub in Morocco in 2019, with satellites in Tunisia, Ivory Coast and Senegal.

"The market for cyber security in Africa will expand from $1.7 billion dollars in 2017 to more than 2.5 billion in 2020," forecast Michel Van den Berghe, managing director of Orange CyberDefense, speaking to AFP by phone.

"Cybercrime could destroy confidence in the development of digital technology," he warned, calling for measures to "reassure companies that wish to invest in Africa".

'Change mindsets'

Attacks using ransomware - in which hackers use a malware virus to infiltrate a computer and encrypt data, then proposing to provide a coded key to "unlock" the data on payment of a ransom - have "doubled in a year", Van den Berghe says. In Africa, attacks have gone up by "20 or 30 percent" over that period.

"Everyone is threatened" in Africa, notably by data theft from individuals, companies and governments, according to Diop.

"Africa is lagging behind, digital security is in its infancy," he said, though he noted that nations such as Kenya and South Africa are "more mature zones".

"Cyber defence can weigh heavy on budgets, but cyber attacks cost a whole lot more dearly to companies," Bobillier said.

For Visa's regional bureau in Abidjan, covering 18 countries in West and Central Africa, "each attack costs an average of 1.2 million dollars," mainly in lost income, said risk manager Lawal Aribidesi, who did not specify the number of attacks.

"The challenge is to change mindsets, to bring the culture of security to business," said Boukary Ouedraogo, managing director of Atos Afrique de l'Ouest, the regional subsidiary of one of the world's main digital services firms.

"As a latecomer to digital technology, Africa can turn its handicap into an advantage by avoiding the errors made in cyber security by Europe and America," Diop suggested.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.